Did you know that 80% of New Year’s Resolutions tend to fail by February? And that, at best, 9% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions? These stats probably don’t surprise you. But, have you ever thought to wonder why?
As someone who loves setting lofty, interpersonal goals, especially in the New Year, I’ve often questioned why they seem to fail more often that not. Yet, when our tree goes up each winter, I cannot help but develop big dreams for the New Year. A part of me thinks I’m wired that way. But, when you pair that with a culture that is embedded in the throes of Prosperity Gospel (aka toxic positivity and delusion), it is easier to understand why millions of Americans come up short on their life’s mission by February 1.
So often, New Year’s Resolutions are ultimatums on our identity. Lose weight so people like you. Read books to be smart. Eat green smoothies to be healthy. Become debt free for more freedom. Exercise to look good in leggings. Meditate to be kind and centered. Get promoted so you are valued at what you are worth. And on and on and on.
I’d like to believe that in all of these scenarios, the intent is to build on the foundation you already have in your life. But, instead, it seems most resolutions (mine included) are founded on the premise that you are not already these things. That you don’t believe you are a smart, healthy, loveable cutie worthy of a big fat raise. And if you truly believe that, then it is no wonder that come January 2, you don’t bound out of bed to slam a green smoothie while meditating, before you head to the gym to read non-fiction while cranking out 5-miles on the treadmill before heading into work early to ensure your boss knows you are the first one in and the last one out, while committing to 30-days of not eating out to save money. I mean, if this doesn’t sound like a plan for sheer success, then what is?
Here’s the thing I’ve learned in years of failed resolutions. Sometimes, just sometimes, it is ok to start with I’m enough. I in fact don’t need to make some major proclamation to level up my life to be a better person. Instead, I can in the wise words of James Clear, aim to be 1% better at the things that really matter to me. That I can set a goalpost of who I want to be and not necessarily what I think the world wants me to be, and slowly crawl my way towards that end game. And if I’m being really crazy, have some fun along the way.
Last year, my New Year’s resolution was a simple, single worded mantra. Alignment. Create a life in alignment with the person I’m becoming. A person that is frankly easy to imagine. A proud storytelling mama who works hard and plays harder. A woman who quietly removes herself from people and environments that no longer serve her well. A woman who gives and receives grace, especially when it comes to her health. A woman who invests her time, energy and money in the people, places and things that matter in her life. A woman who speaks her truth, even when it is hard. A woman who lives an extraordinarily ordinary life, yet feels blessed for the simple things in life.
Perhaps that sounds silly. In a world of do more, be more, achieve more, simple seems boring. Ordinary seems outlandish. Grace seems passive. Yet, I’m finding that while the self-help gurus scream quit your day job and go all in because you’ve only got one shot, I’m too busy living out the beautiful life I’ve created while still punching into a Monday – Friday, 8 am to 5 pm meaningful day job that pays the bills. My all in involves chaueffering my kid around, baking cookies, sneaking Little Debbie’s Christas Tree ice cream to work for my co-workers to try, and cleaning out my chicken coop. Reading a good book while sipping a Teremana margarita before going to bed at 9 pm so I can read non-fiction and sip a maple latte for breakfast. That taste testing green smoothies and short YouTube exercise videos has become a new favorite pastime of mine.
Don’t mistake this as laziness or a stalled mindset. That somehow I’m taking a pass on leveling up because life is hard. Instead, it is acknowledging life is hard enough to not live in the world of unreal expectations. Instead, I’m seeking an alternative to a culture that’s more isolated, miserable, and extrinsic focused than ever. That despite the entire world at our fingertips, we’ve never been more confused about our purpose or what comes next. Myself included. I’m choosing to wake up each day and do my best and when I lay my head on the pillow at night saying, good enough is good enough. And God willing, I get to do it all over tomorrow. And, that my friend is a gift.
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